The fake accounts case continues and so does the process of obtaining bails before arrest for former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.
It does not matter in Sindh where his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) holds sway but it may not be so in the other three provinces.
Prime Minister Imran Khan continues his tirade that his government will not let Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and PPP leaders off the accountability hook until they give the country’s money back.
The situation has Asif Zardari, who considers himself as the wizard of deal making, examine opportunities as they present themselves.
The news that his political opponents in Sindh, especially the Grand Democratic Alliance, in a private meeting with Imran Khan had suggested changing the name of the government welfare program, which is named for Benazir Bhutto.
His party’s unique sales proposition is the Bhutto name.
Zardari sees an opportunity here, when Imran Khan has casually remarked about considering repositioning the program.
He has summoned his trusted party leaders to his Bilawal House in Karachi.
As usually, Zardari is sitting in front of a few ashtrays piled high with cigarette butts. The bar trolley is in place.
Present are party stalwarts, national assembly member Khursheed Shah, Maj. Gen. Farhatulah Babar, who was national security minister in Benazir’s cabinet; senator Sherry Rahman, and national assembly member Dr. Nafisa Shah.
Zardari takes a few drawn out puffs on his cigarette and starts, “Imran’s hint about the Benazir program has placed an opportunity with us and we should run with it.”
Khurshid adds, “In my opinion, we should keep this controversy flying high. We will make people believe that he is dropping our Queen of Martyrs’ name from the program.
“Our general [Babar] is doing a great job… our Sherry… and not to forget our Sharmila [Faruqi, who served as an advisor to the Chief Minister of Sindh].”
Bilawal seeks permission and announces, “We have to keep insulting this selected prime minister as hard as possible. Like Uncle Babar, doesn’t even call him any sort of prime minister. And Aunt Sharmila, really took it to him by suggesting that why not drop his mother’s name from his cancer hospital.
“Daddy, it is only my right to be prime minister. The Bhutto name is our only vote bait. I know all our uncles in Sindh own all our voters, so even if this puppet prime minister removes Mummy’s name, he can’t make our voters disobey their masters.”
Zardari consoles his son, and adds, “Yes, yes and yes. Thanks God to our beautiful feudal system that keeps giving. Yes, yes, and yes. The right to rule Pakistan only belongs to the Bhuttos. But right now we need to think about a few other issues too.
“Our dear friend, Maulana Fazlur Rehman [chairman of his eponymous faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam] has been calling… I think, he is on speed dial… that I should send you [Bilawal] to intern with him.”
Bilawal again seeks permission to speak and asks, “Dad, really! What can I learn from that big bearded man? I don’t think that he has much money too. How many houses does he have?”
Sherry Rehman calms Bilawal and adds, “My sweet child, the Maulana comes for cheap. Just a few diesel import permits work with him. The bearded one can be an effective weapon. We can deploy his religious credentials against Imran.
“You know how successfully we have built the myths that if a person comes and supplicates at the resting places of our Immortal Martyrs, his wishes would come true. We can have the Maulana declare that anyone who desecrates the name of our Queen of Martyrs, than their skin would turn orange and hair would go multicolor. People already see Shirin [Mazari, minister of human rights] and her multicolored hair. The Maulana can issue a fatwa verifying to its truth.
“Bilawal my child, you have already learned a lot from your father, but even a brief internship will benefit you.”
Zardari takes a few quick puffs and adds, “Good that all of us are on the same page about the name change campaign. But there are a few more challenges. You know how it has worked, Nawaz has gotten a parole and Shehbaz is free to travel; and Maryam has adopted the silent mode. I heard that his sons have put their Avenfield property on the market. I will tend to agree with (former senator and minister) Aitzaz Ahsan that the Sharifs have struck a deal with the establishment. So this leaves us in the wilderness. The Bhutto-Zardari assets have to be secured.
“We need to strike hard and from all corners against Imran. Yes, I am getting regular reports how our loyal media is working for us.
“I am going to trigger my lobbying contacts in Washington, D.C. If Trump can recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as president and declare president Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, then what about declaring my child, Bilawal as the ruler of Pakistan.
“Did you see how Trump gave [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un a piece of paper that included a blunt call for the transfer of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States, so Trump would be interested in doing the same for Pakistan. I am game to any proposal that ensures that our Bhutto-Zardari dynasty is in power forever.
“I want Trump to know that the defense of our wealth is more sacred than Pakistan.”